Working with Some Key NLP Assumptions

NLP offers a set of guiding principles or convenient assumptions known as the presuppositions. This section examines three that are particularly relevant to get you into a strong mindset for powerful coaching:

  • The map is not the territory.
  • People are more than their behaviour.
  • Individuals are resourceful.

When you take these on board, you change your perspective in a way that makes you a more effective agent of change with your clients. You don't need to share these concepts with clients, but keep them in your mind as guiding principles.

The map is not the territory

You may have heard the phrase ‘the map is not the territory’; this fundamental NLP premise comes from the work of Alfred Korzybski, a Polish-American scientist. People create their own realities based on their life experiences, beliefs, values and memories. The words they use describe their perception of reality, not reality itself.

The map is the perception, while the territory is reality. For example, Scott, who'd like to find a new relationship, may have a view that: ‘I'm too old to be on the dating scene and anyway, all the decent girls are married by age 35.’ This is Scott's map of the world based on his experience. However, that's not necessarily the truth: his map may be a very limited one because he hasn't been to the best places to find his soul mate. The real territory holds many more potential life partners than Scott's limited map of the world.

Clients typically come ...

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